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Old 04-22-2016, 10:22 AM   #1
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Flushing the Water System

I wander among the forests with my wife and two Blue Heelers. Our camping is primarily Off the Grid without power, water or hookups. There is important preparation required when depending on a pair of AGM International batteries and no Solar.

The Water Pump and System requires some attention. A lot more if you are in the Off the Grid for longer stationary camping. We do, as an alternative to Solar, are trying a Honda generator with our latest Airstream. Our 2006 came with a small factory installed Solar System and did provide decent recharging.

Today our primary power users are the Water Pump and the refrigerator fan to draw air out to keep the ammonia system cool. The furnace we are able to avoid during Mountain camping as the evenings may be cool, but the multiple layering of covers keep us comfortable. If below freezing outside... the furnace is used to maintain some comfort, but not necessary.

The noisy Water Pump and a pump that runs and runs...

- Noisier on battery as it is a slower RPM. As battery voltage drops... it gets noisier. Quieter on 120volt as it runs at a higher RPM. This you must accept as normal Operating Procedure.

- BEFORE you set off to Disney World RV camping or the Wind River Mountain dispersed camp sites... you must prepare your water system. This is not a one paragraph solves all solution, as you can already tell.

- If you are connected to a city water system with a hose to your trailer fresh water connection... just ignore the rest of this Thread. Your system is not using the Airstream's water pump. Find something more interesting to read.
*********
- If you are OFF the city water system, pay attention or you will be one of a hundred posting and posting the same questions and getting all kinds of responses. You must close the hot, cold and fresh water drains under your axle(s). If you hook up the hose and water and air is coming out from under the trailer... you missed something. Also the Hot Water tank plug. It must be secure or it will drip, drip and drip. Plumber's putty or some plumber's tape. Whichever works for you.

FILL the fresh water tank. This may be the best water you will find on your trip... although in the Rocky Mountains many of the Forest Service offices have excellent well water! After purging, top off before leaving town.

If you do not fill your fresh water tank enough, and go through the next procedures, the fresh water sloshing may expose the water inlet to the pump to air... and you have to purge the system, again.

- First... hook up a hose to your City Water connection. Go to each faucet and purge the air from each. Your Hot Water tank is also filling at the same time, so give it time to fill. Purge the hot water lines, even though you do not have hot water on electrical or propane. Purge the shower inside and the outside shower. Purge the AIR OUT.... as much as possible. When the faucet is not expelling air... GOOD. This removes many feet of air needing to be purged for no service camping at the site.

- Second... while using 120v power at home, fill your fresh water tank. Turn the Water Pump switch to ON. The water pump will run quieter but there is still AIR in the SYSTEM. You have to purge each faucet and shower head of air. AIR is the problem. Not the pump. Not the water tank level. AIR, AIR... AIR in the system.

Do not forget to purge the TOILET, or the outside shower head.

- Third... if the pump is slowing down, water line pressure is near the automatic pump shut off level, flip the pump to OFF. Then back ON. If the pump does not restart, you are 95% there. If you use a faucet, turn it off and the pump sputters and does not get to pressure top shut down... you have AIR in the system. Eventually... you will remove all of the air and the pump is maintaining pressure and stops.

- Fourth... Leave some of this fresh water in the Grey and Black water tanks for sloshing while traveling. If too much water, we use a plastic sink bowl when we purge our sinks and toss the water out into the yard. We then put several gallons in the Grey and Black tanks for sloshing. Cleans the tanks. Or you can just drain them in your driveway. Depends how you cleaned your Black Water from your last trip. Most people ignore that as well, and that is another THREAD.

- Fifth... After all of this is done, which takes 30 minutes for us, when you arrive at a campsite, some air moved around and you may have to eliminate it if the water pump spurts and stops, or you flip the switch ON then OFF to ON... and the pump does not restart. After a little use, you should be good for the rest of the trip.

- Sixth... NEVER LEAVE YOUR PUMP turned ON when towing or leaving the trailer. Even if everything is 100%... do not forget. Or if you do not care... you may want to visit the How Do I REPLACE a Water Pump threads. Just smart. Much like turning lights off when on battery power.

NOBODY explains this to you when you buy your trailer. You believe you are doing something wrong. It is that you do not know and most do not want to spend this much time trying to explain to you how to do what might appear to be a simple procedure. It is NOT SIMPLE.

We only have the HOT water when needed for showers. We heat small amounts for dish washing in a coffee pot on the propane stove. We are tight when it comes to wasting money when not necessary.

Once you figure it out, or just ignore this effort to educate you... this is the best advice on the water pump to date. The pump is noisy. Your Air Conditioning system is noisy. Your ceiling exhaust fans are noisy. Get use to it. It is normal. This is a TRAILER. If you do not like the noise, open the windows and get over it.
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Old 04-22-2016, 10:45 AM   #2
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Thank you so much . I printed this so that after I get over the shakes from backing in and setting up (Yea! ) I will have this and other notes from many of you all to get me through the newbie stage.
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Old 04-22-2016, 11:47 AM   #3
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Great post Ray!!! Thanks so much
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Old 04-22-2016, 03:35 PM   #4
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Preventative Maintenance is SMART Airstreaming

NEW trailers need to have the fresh water tank... filled 50%, and let it slosh for the first time you are ready to actually use the fresh water. The tanks have some 'new' film of chemical that tastes lousy, but maybe fine for washing dishes.

Do the process in Post #1 for priming to clean out the insides of the hot and cold water lines. Then the sloshing of the fresh water tank to clean off the interior of the fresh water tank.

Our 2006 Airstream we did none of the above. Made coffee the first morning we went camping and it may as well been insecticide coating the tank.

Drain the entire system on the last leg of your trip home. The trailer moving will slosh around and catch any sediment in the tank and it... may ... run out of the open valve between the axles.

Returning Home:
Open the fresh water tank valve to drain
Open the hot and cold water system valves in the same area between the axles

Next Trip if after months in a hot, humid climate. Flush the water lines and the fresh water tank. Then Prime the Pump. Now we have MILDEW to consider. This way you can avoid the Clorox chemical to kill the Mildew. City water already has Chlorine so this should fix you up.

We had no problem for eight years using the 2006 just doing maintenance like this.

Practice HOME water system purging:

Your home water system must also be a consideration if you are gone for months. Especially during the Winter months, if power is lost.

Winter months we actually shut the water off into the house. Open outside water valves, open all of the interior water valves and DRAIN THE HOUSE WATER SYSTEM. We do not drain the soft water tank. Usually in an area where the ground temperature and salt brine is not as likely to FREEZE. After six months of being away... your water will get... funky.

We then do the reverse and FLUSH the system like it is an Airstream without wheels.

Not everyone cares. We are on Well Water and no chlorine. But... in the Winter all water will freeze if the temperature within the home gets into the mid 20's and lower.

We had a neighbor on another street, who had a second home in Hawaii. He left his water system ON, which was his first mistake. He shut his furnace OFF, which was the second mistake. When Spring arrive at 6,400 feet elevation in Colorado... he had a telephone call. Water was running of the house. He could not even find a local plumbing company to come out and give an estimate for repairs. Sheet Rock, floors, split water lines... A lesson learned the hard way.

Same thing can happen to your trailer stored with Fresh, Grey, Black tanks and a pressurized water system in the Winter Months outdoors. The cost would be extreme.

Much is just sitting down and thinking 'what can go wrong'?

Boondocking for Greenhorns and new to Off the Grid camping will get an ear full. It is best to hear about someone else going through all the things that can go wrong. There are thousands of trailers that depend on simple preventive measures to avoid big problems.

... and do not forget to put Trailer Antifreeze into your sink and shower traps.

See... you may have forgotten that.

None of these ideas can be done in twenty words or less. Some people avoid reading a lengthy post. They will, some day, NOT be able to avoid the long three page repair and reconstruction sheet. Some time, a dollar of water and some trailer antifreeze will let you sleep when the trailer is in storage... or on the road.

I do not care either way. But... if I am BUYING a trailer... these are the first things to check. If the current owner will not pressure up the system and you can actually find the water system and hot water tank DO WORK... you are buying AS IS and they buy a trailer that is not trashed out once you own it.

Time to walk with Nancy and our two Blue Heelers. Our camping season begins in TWO weeks. We practice what we preach. Aware Airstream owners can avoid all of these problems with a NEW trailer, or buying a USED trailer. AS IS is not a warranty.

Good luck and as Roy Rogers said... Happy Trails to You!
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Old 04-22-2016, 04:14 PM   #5
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Don't forget to remove the drain plug on the hot water tank when draining the system.

Also, don't forget to install the hot water tank when filling the system.
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Old 04-22-2016, 04:55 PM   #6
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Technically, the pump is 12 volts. When connected to shore power the pump gets its power from the converter not the battery. Just clarifying what you said. We've never had to prime the pump. You can run them dry and when water is present it will start to pump again on its own. This may all be the difference in the vintage between mine and yours. I use the original pump as a transfer pump to fill the fresh water tank from 5 gallon jugs. It runs dry while switching the intake hose from one jug to the next.
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Old 04-22-2016, 05:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrprez View Post
Technically, the pump is 12 volts. When connected to shore power the pump gets its power from the converter not the battery. Just clarifying what you said. We've never had to prime the pump. You can run them dry and when water is present it will start to pump again on its own. This may all be the difference in the vintage between mine and yours. I use the original pump as a transfer pump to fill the fresh water tank from 5 gallon jugs. It runs dry while switching the intake hose from one jug to the next.
How do you fill the tank with the pump? A Y-valve on the pump output?

Al
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrprez View Post
Technically, the pump is 12 volts. When connected to shore power the pump gets its power from the converter not the battery. Just clarifying what you said. We've never had to prime the pump. You can run them dry and when water is present it will start to pump again on its own. This may all be the difference in the vintage between mine and yours. I use the original pump as a transfer pump to fill the fresh water tank from 5 gallon jugs. It runs dry while switching the intake hose from one jug to the next.
******
I do not recommend that anyone run your water pump dry. You will overheat and ruin your pump. There I have to disagree with mrprez.
*******

I have a 2014 International.

You are right, the water pump is 12 volt. When connected to 120volts the voltage converter is running 13.7 volts into the system. The water pump's RPM is higher and quieter.

When on batteries, off the grid, the batteries are being drained, voltage is decreasing, and the water pump's RPM decreases, becomes noisier at less than 12 volts and when the battery is drained... will not run at all. Never drain your batteries that low. There are threads concerning how low, many say 10 volts is getting low enough... but I am not discussing 120volt and 12volt systems about your water system priming.

I just avoided adding another paragraph, but now that it is being discussed, everyone is aware. When the trailer is not connected to 'shore power' the microwave will not work, as it is 100% dependent on 120volts.

'Priming' the pump was meant like drawing oil from a well. You must remove excess air from the system. The Water Pump will run, but if full of air... it will not pump, nor draw from the fresh water tank, water into the system until the air is removed. How long it would require to run the water pump with a full fresh water tank to reach pressure...is something I would not do and never would, myself. Much like a straw in a glass of soda.... but again, this becomes another topic.

Now, does everyone understand that no matter how long you make a discussion, you cannot possibly include EVERYTHING. But many can answer similar questions with two sentences. I am just not that clever.
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:52 PM   #9
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The Flojet pump that comes in new Airstreams can be run dry. This was taken from the product description.

Self-Priming
Soft, Noise Absorbing Mounts
Can safely run dry
Snap-in 1/2" Port Fittings
Made of Corrosion Resistant Materials
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Old 04-22-2016, 06:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
How do you fill the tank with the pump? A Y-valve on the pump output?

Al
I replaced the Flojet with a Shurflo looking for a quieter pumping experience. I used the Flojet as the transfer pump.

I added a long cable with alligator clips and clear hoses on the pump. I set my jugs next to the trailer, set the pump on one of the jugs, connect the power to the batteries and then insert the hoses in the jugs and fill port. Works like a champ.

I am still chasing the quiet pumping experience however.
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Old 04-22-2016, 07:07 PM   #11
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Flojet... standard or optional equipment?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrprez View Post
The Flojet pump that comes in new Airstreams can be run dry. This was taken from the product description.

Self-Priming
Soft, Noise Absorbing Mounts
Can safely run dry
Snap-in 1/2" Port Fittings
Made of Corrosion Resistant Materials
*******

Why would anyone want to run their... Flojet pump dry... to prime the interior water system? You would want to do that on 'shore power'. You have provided me a mission to figure out what kind of system is on my 2014 International.

It would be nice if you would do a Thread and describe this more. I admit. The old way works for no doubt both systems. Does the Flojet also drain itself? Neither does mine.

Noise absorbing mounts? That is a new one on me. I will have to figure out which brand I have and how much reduced the noise is from... whatever preceded. The 2006 has noise absorbing mounts... and it was noisy.

I pour our water from a five gallon jug into the fresh water fill on the outside when adding Off the Grid, so must not have a Flojet system.

(I did not realize you use a separate water pump to transfer water. That clears that up. I need the exercise and the wife will not do the water transfer!)
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Old 04-23-2016, 08:51 AM   #12
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OK, once again. My trailer came with a Flojet 2.9 gpm 50 psi pump. I'd be willing to bet yours has the same pump. The way it was mounted made it exceptionally loud. I bought a new pump and replaced the Flojet with a Shurflo Revolution 4008. The Flojet was bouncing around in the back of the truck with no purpose until I realized that I had enough parts to turn it into a portable transfer pump.

I don't know why anyone would run their pump dry on purpose. However, if you run your tank dry you won't burn up the pump as you described. I do not know the history of which pumps were used by Airstream over the years. It would be up to the individual to determine which pump is installed in their trailer and do the research to see if it can be run dry as well as it's self priming capabilities.

I still pour the water directly into the tank unless I am filling the tank at a campground that has water nearby. We boondock 90% of the time so rarely have utility connections.
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Old 04-23-2016, 10:10 AM   #13
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Flushing the Water System

I should have titled this: Flushing the Water System.

When I used 'Prime the Pump or else...' I did not imagine a major pump discussion. Flushing the Water System is very important. Swapping out water pumps is not my interest.

I care less about brands of water pumps. I see plenty of previous Threads speaking about 'priming the pump'. I am sure 'noise level' also comes up frequently. It only creates noise when you are awake and using the pressurized water system. IF... there is air in the system, it is not unusual for the water pump to.... brrrrr... brrrr and then stop. Just getting back to pressure. Some air in the system. Air compresses differently than liquids...

For those who are following this Thread... Flushing your System before use and draining the water system after use... is the theme of this Thread.

Much like the brand of Toilet Tissues to use in the trailer's mini-septic and dump it system... there are many opinions. I have my preferences that work 100% for me. The Flushing the System dialogue on this Thread... works for me.

My wife and I have developed over 10 years of camping in remote places, a system covering anything using a standard Airstream. Other than this time, bringing a Honda generator with us, versus the solar panel... which may be added if the generator lacks... convenience. The Honda generator is another experiment, that will be used a lot this camping season with a number of TRUE Boondocking Adventures in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.

From awnings, to floor mats, to minimal water use for showers and the list goes on... we do use 100% of our fresh water tank for drinking, food preparation and cleaning selves and kitchen utensils.

Threads concerning showering can make my eyes roll back into my forehead.

Fresh water while Off the Grid is a luxury. Once that is figured out, then ways to conserve fresh water are learned behavior. Our Blue Heelers have a five gallon cube water jug I sit on top of a plastic milk crate, their water bowl below the spigot. Even our dogs are figured into the... program.

You may discover a short cut and get the same results as mine. We would like to hear. This is what makes the AirForums valuable to new and current trailer of any brand owners.
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Old 04-23-2016, 10:40 AM   #14
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Just to add a little to all the " PUMP" information here. And yes, I did read it all without going to sleep. A couple of years ago I had difficulty getting the Surflo pump to prime the first time out that year but in the end it did prime itself and worked that travel season. The following season it just wouldn't draw water from the tank. We left for our southern winter travel season and bought a new Surflo pump along the way and all was good. That is, all was good until it wasn't. Fortunately I kept the old pump and got a re-build kit for it and keep it as a spare. Just this past March we were in a CG in Louisiana and I noticed water dripping from our tank fill point. Again, fortunately, we happened to be on an AS caravan and one of "US" had been an Airstream tech in his prior life. I asked him where the check valve would be found and he said it was built into the pump and if it had failed it would allow water to bypass and flow into the tank causing my overflow. Now, lucky me, I had my old, re-conditioned pump and it was a simple matter to R&R the pump. Now I have the pump with the failed check valve and new re-build kits to keep me busy next week when we're on the road. Since every other function of the pump is good I think I'll try to just flush the head in hopes that it's simply debris that caused the water to bypass the valve. If not I have 2 new kits on hand so I can quickly replace the pump head. While at it this last time I put a crimp connector plug on the power line so I can simply unplug the wire and exchange the pump. It takes longer to empty the closet floor to gain access than it will to exchange the pump.

Now, I have a real neat method for filling my tank while dry camping but that's another thread sometime. No pump, no power needed.
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